Heavy fighting rocks eastern Syria: residents

AMMAN Sun May 6, 2012 6:42am EDT

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AMMAN (Reuters) - Heavy fighting between rebels and government troops erupted overnight in the capital of an oil producing province in eastern Syria, residents and activists said on Sunday, the latest escalation of violence in a tribal area bordering Iraq.

Rebels armed with rocket-propelled grenades attacked tank positions in the eastern sector of the city of Deir al-Zor on the Euphrates river, in response to an army offensive against several towns and villages in the province that have killed tens of people in recent days, they said.

"The fighting subsided early in the morning. We do not have a death toll because no one is daring to go into the streets," said Ghaith Abdelsalam, an opposition activist who lives near Ghassan Abboud roundabout. At least five army tanks had been deployed on each street leading to the roundabout, a flashpoint for the fighting, he added.

(Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

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